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Consumer Spending Strength Continues... And a Look at Changing Shopping Habits

The bottom line is that consumer spending gathered steam late last year, and according to today's Retail Sales data release, consumer spending is on track to post a moderately strong gain in Q1, a trend consistent with other indicators of consumer spending. 1

Foreign Trade: Year in Review - Big Export Growth in 2010

Today's release fills out the trade picture for 2010, and what a year it was from the foreign trade perspective: economic growth around the world was mixed (as the IMF recently put it, "Global Recovery Advances but Remains Uneven"), several commodity prices shot up, and some foreign exchange rates swung around (hello euro). 

January Employment Report: Getting Better, Not Good Enough Yet

Today's jobs report has some good news, but we continue to look for better news, with the bottom line being that the unemployment rate fell again and by a lot but payrolls didn't increase as much as we would have liked. I'm not trying to wear rose-colored glasses here, but most of the other recent economic indicators have been much more positive than the stubborn payroll numbers would suggest, and economists and commentators have been talking about what the numbers all mean and looking for analogs. 

Will Economic Forecasters Become More Optimistic About the Labor Market?

What do forecasters say about how the economy will fare in 2011? This is a difficult question to answer as there are lots of changing forecasts of the U.S. economy. What is true is that in recent months, most forecasters have become increasingly optimistic about the economic outlook for the U.S. economy.

Housing Market Continues Bounce

New Residential Construction in December 2010

The bottom line is that the housing market continues to bounce along the bottom (at least in terms of national totals). Today's data did have a quirky permits number, but that could have been the result of builders rushing to file permits before the end of the year to avoid some new regulations in the states of Pennsylvania, New York, and California. Therefore, next month expect permits to retrace most of today's gain.

U.S. Trade Deficit Little Changed in November

If you recall, last month the monthly trade data surprised on the upside: exports shot up and the trade deficit went down more than market expectations. Sometimes with monthly economic series, these sudden changes reverse themselves in the next month (giveth and taketh away). Not the case this time, folks: exports and imports edged up a bit and the deficit was nearly unchanged.

Retail Sales in December, Fourth Quarter, and 2010

The bottom line is that consumer spending picked up at the end of the year. Making this determination is mucho difficult, if not impossible, if we were to solely rely on the large volume of private sector data that was recently released covering holiday sales, Cyber Monday, Black Friday, Re-gift Thursday, … . Instead, there are several notable attributes of the Census Bureau's "Advance Monthly Sales and Food Services" release when trying to ascertain what is happening to consumer spending.

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